A few thoughts for the wine-loving Dad in your life, and remember the wine gift-giving guidelines. The most important? Buy wine that Dad likes, not wine that you think he should like:
? d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab 2009 ($14, sample): Today's metaphysical wine question: Why does Australia bother with so much of the "wine" that it makes when it can do white Rhone blends like this? Crisp, clean and refreshing, with a bit of lime and peach. May be able to find this for as little as $12.
? Project Paso Red 2009 ($14, sample): Decent value for what it is, with lots of red fruit (though not much to differentiate it from other wines in its class). A good choice if it shows up on a restaurant wine list. And let's not forget the zork closure.
? J Pinot Noir Nicole's Vineyard 2007 ($50, sample): Pricey yes, but top-notch California pinot noir with some earthiness in front, quality black fruit throughout (and not too much of it), and a long, terroir-driven finish. Just a lovely wine.
A regular visitor to the blog suggested the Wine Curmudgeon try this Spanish red, so I bought it and brought it home. It was only then that I noticed the alcohol level: 15 percent. Gulp.
But, because I firmly believe in tasting a wine before I judge it, I did just that. And I can report that the Evodia ($10, purchased) handles the high alcohol well. Save for touch of alcohol-inspired heat at the front, that 15 percent wasn’t an issue.
Having said that, the Evodia is not a subtle wine, and it does need food like beef, barbecue or something with enough fat to offset its oomph. It’s not a summer porch sipper by any stretch of the imagination; this is a New World-style garnacha with lots of sweet fruit (blackberries and cherries?). It doesn’t have much more than that, but what’s there is excellent, and it’s a candidate for the 2012 $10 Hall of Fame.
Those of us who want to do more than just write reviews of wine samples face a dilemma. The samples are mostly wines from the big wine producers, but they tend to be a bit overpriced and not always very interesting. On the other hand, they're free, they're usually widely available (which is not always true of the wines that I buy), and it's not like there is anything obviously wrong with them.
Hence my indecision with something like the Norman ($15, sample), which has been sitting in the wine closet for 18 months — so long, in fact, that the current vintage is the 2008, and the 2009 is probably just around the corner. Did I do the wine a disservice by letting it sit so long?
Probably. This is a well-constructed California cabernet, with more herbal qualities than similarly-priced Napa or Sonoma wines (like the Hayman & Hill). It's still fruity (black cherries?) but the difference in terroir is noticeable — and welcome in a wine at this price. And, in letting the Norman sit so long, I probably did it a favor. The age helped it, though I wouldn't let it sit any longer than it has. The 2008 is probably ready right now.
Drink this wine with red meat, barbecue and similar dishes. It's probably too big to drink on its own, save for the manliest of red wine drinkers. But as something to keep around the house in case someone drops by, it's a good choice.
Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, a couple of roses to close out rose week.
? Mo t & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Ros 2002 ($80, sample): Classic in style, with lots of acid and fantastic bubbles. Could probably age for a couple of years more to give the fruit a chance to show. A fine gift for someone who appreciates Champagne.
? El Coto Rioja Rosado 2010 ($10, sample): Much more New World than Spanish in style, with lots more fruit (strawberry) than a Spanish rose would have. Having said that, it's still dry and a fine, simple, fresh rose for summer.
? Mart n C dax Albari o 2009 ($15, sample): Spanish white had lemon fruit and was a little fresher than usual, which was welcome. But it's still $2 or $3 more than similar wines.
? Cantina Tollo Pecorino 2009 ($16, purchased): This white was bright and Italian, which means not that much fruit (pears?), balanced acid, and long mineral finish. Highly recommended.
Memorial Day weekend means it’s time for the annual rose post — where you won’t have to spend much more than $10 to have a good time.
Surprisingly, despite the weak dollar and the passage of all that time, that price point hasn ?t changed since the Wine Curmudgeon started writing an annual rose piece almost 10 years ago. There are still dozens of terrific roses that cost $10 or so from all over the world. The one thing that has changed? The quality of rose keeps getting better, and it ?s unusual to find a poorly made rose (something that wasn ?t necessarily true 10 years ago).
What you need to know about rose — after the jump:
The Wine Curmudgeon appreciated this wine the first time he tasted it, in those long ago days of newspaper wine columns. It’s cheap, it’s consistent, and it comes from a producer that cares about the quality of its inexpensive wine. What’s not to like?
However, I have neglected to review the Toad Hollow ($10, purchased) in the blog’s three-plus years of existence (though it is an original member of the $10 Hall of Fame). So let’s remedy this now as we celebrate rose wine on the blog this week; my annual rose preview will run tomorrow.
Look for lots of strawberry and acid to complement the fruit, which has always been a Toad Hollow trademark. The wine seemed a bit sweeter this vintage than in the past couple, though that may have been because it had not been in the bottle long enough for all of its bits to come together (a wine geek would describe a young wine like that as a little shocky).
Update: I did a little checking, and the wine is noticeably sweeter than usual this year. That’s disappointing, because this has always been one of the great dry roses produced in the U.S. It probably won’t stay in the Hall of Fame.
The biggest problem with Friday night's Planet Bordeaux Twitter tasting was that the Wine Curmudgeon couldn't drink the four wines over four nights, one night at a time. It was a shame to have to do them all at the same time.
Planet Bordeaux is a marketing effort to give well-made and well-priced wine from the less famous parts of the French region of Bordeaux exposure they don't normally get. The Twitter tasting was part of that effort; you can follow the tweets here. The tweeters, wine writers and bloggers, seemed impressed with the wines.
Here are my notes on the four wines, which kicks off rose week. The blog will feature the dry pink wine that too many of us don't appreciate, including a rose wine of the week on Wednesday and my annual rose preview on Thursday.
? Dourthe Grand Cuvee 2010 ($12, sample): This white is very New World in style, with grapefruit and pineapple in the middle. Well done; just not especially French.
? Chateau Ballan Larquette Rose 2010 ($16, sample): An interesting wine that divided the tweeters and is difficult to describe. Some said it smelled like tomatoes; others said red fruit. I liked it, but $16 is a problem.
? Chateau Fontenille 2010 ($14, sample): My favorite of the tasting — clean with deep red fruit and almost more red wine than rose. It's available in some markets for $10 a bottle, which makes it highly recommended.